Fearlessly drop into a wave. Big waves. Big moments. Unlike other sports, defining greatness among elite female surfers is not based on stats. Surfing is about much more than racking up wins on the water.
GFG highlights some of the best female surfers who have undeniably dominated the waves over the years — and put surfing on the map.
These surfers made a big splash — changing the waves through the inspirational power of surfing. Get to know them and find inspiration from the female surfers who have changed the sport in irreversibly brilliant ways.
Female Surfers Who Forever Changed the Sport
Sage is a California born surfer girl — known for her wicked frontside carve thanks to her Rincon point upbringing. Among her many victories, Sage spent five years of battling on the Championship Tour before she notched her first Championship Tour victory in 2017 at the Vans US Open of Surfing. In 2019 she won two QS events and stormed her way on to the CT for 2020.
GFG Ambassador Lucy Jarrard is a 19-year-old surfer from Carlsbad, California. At the age of 16 her and her family relocated to the West Side of Oahu, Hawaii, to train and charge surf. Lucy Jarrard is the first female surfer to represent American Sāmoa in the International Surfing Association (ISA). Jarrard is competing in an Olympic Qualifier for Tokyo 2021 in El Salvador May 8-16.
The courageous Kauai surfer Bethany Hamilton has overcome major obstacles (14-foot-long tiger shark that bit her entire arm off in 2003) and at one-point landed at the top of professional surfing, learning to rip with one paddling arm. In 2011, the film Soul Surfer was released featuring Hamilton. She also has a 2019 movie, Unstoppable, where she shows the struggles and happiness of her family. From 1998 to 2013, Bethany accumulated many victories, including Surf n Sea Pipeline Women’s Pro Champion, 3rd place finish in Fiji’s Women Pro Championship, and T & C Pipeline Women’s Pro Champion.
East Coast fav and New York native, Quincy Davis is known for being fluid and graceful which is also reflected in her effortless style. Quincy has shown her creative side by co-designing a capsule collection with apparel brand Volcom, collaborating with friend and fellow Montauk surfer Cynthia Rowley on a signature wetsuit, and designing a custom sneaker with Italian leather brand KOIO for a jewelry collection. From 2009 to 2014, Quincy accumulated many victories, including 1st NSSA Championships, Open Women Volcom Qualifying Series Champion, Corona Extra Pro Surf Circuit Champion, Oakley World Pro Junior Champion, and Corona Extra Pro Surf Circuit Champion.
Known for her fearless endeavors, Keala Kennelly is no match for big wave exploits. Keala has accumulated many victories and awards over the years, including two-time winner of Billabong Pro in Teahupoo, ASP Women's WCT Runner Up; Triple Crown Champion, two-time winner of Billabong XXL Girls Performance Award and 2013 Inductee, Surfing Walk of Fame and Actions Sports Hall of Fame. Beyond professional surfing, Keala is a world-renowned DJ and actress from Kauai, Hawaii.
Hailing from Hawaiian surfing royalty, Coco Ho became one of the most athletic and charismatic girls on the World Tour. Over the years, Coco has accumulated a plethora of victories, including ASP Pro Junior Champion, Women's Legendary Pacific Coast Pro, (Newcastle, Australia) WQS 6 Star Champion, World Qualifying Champion, Los Cabos Open of Surf WQS 6 Star Champion, Oceano Santa Catarina Pro WQS 6 Star Champion, and 2016 Supergirl Pro – Champion. Coco is now the new face for Volcom Clothing and lifestyle brand.
Complete domination says it all. Australian native, Layne Beachley quickly rose to the top spot in women’s pro surfing, winning a whopping seven ASP world titles between 1998 and 2006 (6 of which were consecutive). She was also awarded the Australian Sports Medal in 2000. She is the only woman in history to gain seven World Championships, and the only surfer, male or female — to win six consecutive world titles. Beachley retired from the sport in 2008.
Stephanie Gilmore won her first major pro surf contest at just 17-years-old — and now five ASP world titles. Gilmore is currently one of the most dominant surfers in history — and after qualifying to represent Australia at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games, she has a shot at adding a gold medal to her long list of achievements. In 2019, Gilmore remained as relevant and stylish as ever on the way to winning her 17th and 18th CT career victories in Bali and Maui.
After winning the Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards four consecutive times (2007-2010) in the “Best Female Performance” category, she became tow-partners with the great Carlos Burle. Nearly drowning in 2013 at Nazare, Portugal, Maya has proven she is a big wave rider — winning the current Guinness World Record for the biggest wave ever surfed by a female surfer. Gabeira has received numerous accolades including the ESPY award for Best Female Action Sports Athlete and is considered one of the best female surfers in the world as well as one of the most influential female surfers of all time
Carissa Moore, aka the most talented surfer on the Women’s World Tour. Moore is a four-time World Champion from Honolulu, Hawaii. In 2019 Moore claimed her fourth World Title on home soil at Maui. Moore has provisionally qualified to represent the USA at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games, a fitting honor for one of surfing’s all-time greats, both in and out of the water.
A Maui native, Paige Alms has won three WSL Big Wave World Tour events held at Jaws. In 2016, she became the first female Big Wave champion. Holding two world titles and three big wave event victories thanks to her dominance at the Pe’ahi Challenge, Maui local Paige Alms has set the bar for women in giant surf.
Navigating the world’s most exciting waves — surfing is about the soulful icons and bold daredevils that make up the sport. Surf's up!